Obama Vows to 'Fix Whatever Is Wrong' With VA

Image: Obama Vows to 'Fix Whatever Is Wrong' With VA

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 10:37 AM


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President Barack Obama said any Veterans Affairs official responsible for delaying treatment for returning service members will be held accountable and that he’s ordered a top aide to make recommendations on fixing the troubled agency.

Obama said the VA inspector general is investigating reports that some facilities kept secret waiting lists for veterans seeking care, to cover up failures to meet standards. Some veterans may have died while on the wait lists.

“If these allegations prove to be true, it is dishonorable, it is disgraceful and I will not tolerate it, period,” Obama said at the White House after a meeting with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors, who will be in Phoenix tomorrow to oversee a review of the system there.

With his remarks, the president is now taking a personal role as he faces a political backlash from lawmakers of both parties over reports that hospitals may have altered records to hide treatment delays.

“I will not stand for it. Not as commander in chief, but also not as an American,” Obama said, adding that the trouble at the VA has been festering for decades.

Urgent: Should General Shinseki Resign? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

Although the White House has maintained support for Shinseki, others have called for his resignation, including the American Legion and Republican Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina, John Cornyn of Texas and Jerry Moran of Kansas.

Shinseki Stays

Obama said Shinseki will stay in the job, for now.

“If he does not think he can do a good job on this and if he thinks he has let our veterans down, he is not going to be interested” in staying on, he said.

CNN, citing a retired VA doctor, reported in April that managers at a VA center in Phoenix covered up long wait times for care and that as many as 40 veterans died while on the list. Obama said at the time that he ordered Shinseki to investigate and that there was a probe being conducted by the VA’s inspector general.

The Office of Inspector General is investigating more than two dozen VA facilities. Obama said he directed Nabors to deliver recommendations by next month.

In the 2008 election, Obama sought support from veterans and criticized the VA’s administration. PolitiFact, a website that tracks campaign promises, documented 14 veterans-related campaign promises, which included reducing the backlog of medical care.

“A proud and grateful nation owes more than ceremonial gestures and kind words,” Obama said in remarks to the VFW national convention in August 2007. “Caring for those who serve and for their families is a fundamental responsibility of the commander-in-chief.”

While more people have been hired since then, there’s also been an increase in medical claims with the end of the war in Iraq and the winding down of the war in Afghanistan, the longest conflict in U.S. history.

Urgent: Should General Shinseki Resign? Vote Now in Urgent Poll


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